I’m not going to kid you: The little school in Estrada, in which our Cathedral mission team worked all last week, was hot. Add to the spiking outdoor temperature low ceilings, poor ventilation, fifty local kids, and our mission team, and the sum is an often sweltering hot box. Of course, Estrada’s children were accustomed to the heat, and our team made the best of it. But there were those in the little school who endured conditions even hotter. Each day when our team arrived at 8:30 a.m., two women–Angela and Nuria–were already in the small kitchen. They’d been there for some time, in fact. And in that space they labored each day until noon over a hot stove–yes, a hot stove on top of all other heat–chopping, mixing, stirring, and cooking the daily feast they would serve us for lunch. The menu always included freshly-made pico de gallo, rice and beans, mashed potatoes, and a different meat dish. Angela and Nuria went about their labor quietly and graciously. They never complained, and they never sought commendation. They are members of the Estrada church–volunteers–who set aside their own family duties (of which I know they had many) to extend the most incredible hospitality to us in the most inhospitable working conditions. I was awed by them, and on the last day in Estrada I did my best to used my awkward and limited Spanish to thank and bless them.
On the first night of our mission trip, I offered Matthew 10:5-14 as a meditation for our mission team. The passage tells of Jesus sending the disciples out into the countryside to spread the Good News. Jesus counsels the disciples not to encumber their travel with things like money, extra clothes, and other extraneous items. And Jesus tells them not to worry overly much about what they accomplish. Rather, their emphasis is to be upon those alongside whom they travel, upon their companionship with one another as well as those they meet along the way. Jesus’ counsel is surely apt for the Cathedral Costa Rica mission trip just ended. Surely, we did good work. The Estrada school now has a concrete sidewalk and septic system as the tangible fruits of our labor. But much more importantly, our missioners walked along side one another in faith. On our last evening together in Costa Rica, I overheard one missioner say to another, “I love you, because you’re my brother-in-Christ.” Indeed. I also love two saints in an overheated Estrada kitchen, alongside whom we traveled for a week, and who showed us with quiet grace, in actions, and through sumptuous food the Good News of Jesus Christ.
– The Very Reverend Barkley Thompson